Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Cities Should Be Designed: Argonne National Laboratory

Before I start, I would first like to apologize for the lack of posts over the past few days.  I realize that about 100 people visit this blog on a daily basis, which is way more than I would have thought a blog of mine would get, so I should have probably tried harder to keep the posts coming.

On the other hand, I want to finish strong in school and my final papers seemed like a better use of my time, so a thousand apologies for not taking the time out of my schedule to write overly-sarcastic material and posting comics on Sunday - deal with it.

In any event, I came across this article posted about Argonne National Laboratory winning a federal award for energy savings a few days ago and I am just now going to get around to it:
Instead of bringing in outside consultants, Argonne reduced costs by using its own team of engineers and maintenance mechanics to identify projects to save energy. When the projects save money, Argonne reinvests those funds in additional projects. In 2009, Argonne ran 14 in-house projects that together saved nine megawatt-hours of power—enough to power 6,000 households.
Whoa whoa whoa. Wait a minute. You are telling me that people are saving money and THEN reinvesting the savings to pursue further savings and increased revenues? Get out of here.
The lab also installed outdoor light poles powered by small wind turbines and solar panels; the lights run entirely off the grid, and their battery packs can store enough energy to power the light for three days without sun or wind.
This is the really awesome part of what Argonne has done, and I hope to see more of this in the future in cities and towns.  Every day we drive, walk, and bike past hundreds of street lights which are all extracting energy from the power grid, but we never think twice about the money that this costs the taxpayer.

Imagine if Chicago replaced their street lighting with wind powered lighting systems.  The long-term savings would be huge; there are just no two ways about it.

Obviously there would be an upfront cost to installing these new systems, but you can say that about any new project geared towards infrastructure.  If we let initial investment costs deter us from pursuing new projects, there would never be any progress.

And for those that are really upset about not having a Sunday Comic, here is an awesome picture of two veterinarians dressed in panda costumes so that they can care for a baby panda:

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